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Monologues’ discussion important

Jordy Brooks | Monday, February 18, 2008

First of all, I would like to express my appreciation for the courage that Rob O’Brien (“‘Monologues’ promote non-violence,” Feb. 12) and Christina Holmstrom (“Monologues encourage mistreatment of women,” Feb. 11) showed in writing articles on the “Vagina Monologues” and sharing their experiences. This is clearly an issue that fosters differing opinions on our campus, and this creation of discussion is the purpose of it being on campus this year in an academic setting. I am certain that the majority, if not all of the people at Notre Dame, believe that violence against women is wrong, but perhaps disagree about the methods that can be used to stop it. My personal experience with the “Vagina Monologues” has been a very important one in the shaping of my college years, and the person who I have become.

My freshman year, I was raped. For a number of months, I denied that it had happened and placed it out of my mind. A few months later, I joined the cast of the “Vagina Monologues,” something that would come to have a monumental impact on my life. It was only then that I began down the long road of recovery and healing. I cannot stress enough how important my friends, my family and other support systems were at that time. But the “Vagina Monologues” was a different and very powerful kind of support. As a cast member, I was surrounded every day by these issues, and was forced to face my own healing. It was comforting to know that I was not alone, that many women all over the world had experienced violence and were living through it. It was important for me to be a part of something that gave such support to those women and to have a support system myself in the women of the 2005 cast and crew. They taught me that when I was ready, I could share my story, but that it was mine and my healing was a process that could go at my own pace. They gave me back the power and dignity that the rape had taken away. Those women, and that experience, turned my life around and brought an entirely new perspective to my then broken spirit. I can say with all certainty, that without that experience, without that support, I would not still be at this university.

This is my experience with healing, and it’s not over. Of course, for every person, this healing process is different. For many people, the “Vagina Monologues” does aid in the healing process after sexual trauma. For some people it doesn’t. And for those people, I sincerely hope that they find their own particular path to healing. But for those people that it does help to heal, I hope it always finds a home here. In my experience, it was what ultimately got me through. To be in a community of women, who were working to end violence against women, and who were supportive of me, whether or not they had experienced similar violence, was incredibly empowering and healing.

The most important aspect of all this is the discussion. This is the very reason the organizers wanted to bring the play back to campus. We believe that everyone is entitled to their position on the issue of the “Vagina Monologues.” To quote Evelyn Beatrice Hall, paraphrasing the attitudes of Voltaire, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Promoting this discussion in an academic setting and in the context of the University’s Catholic character, and studying the play in social, anthropological and psychological contexts is extremely important. It gets to the core of what being a university is about. Each person’s experience and opinion is different, but all should be welcomed in the discussion of the significance of the Vagina Monologues and the issues surrounding it.

This is simply my experience with healing and my opinion on the issues. My hope is that in seeing the “Vagina Monologues,” if you choose to do so, you will listen, form your own opinions and share them. This discussion only further raises awareness about violence against women and teaches us all invaluable lessons about respecting other people’s opinions and discussing works of art or literature in an academic setting.

So thank you for your discussion and debate; this is the very reason why this play is so important. And thank you to all those brave women and men who are survivors and supporters; to those who are struggling or have struggled. You have given me courage and a voice.

Jordy Brooks is a senior and co-organizer of “The Vagina Monologues.” She can be contacted at jbrooks@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.